It's been a remarkable year for Nintendo's Switch and Monolith Soft is ensuring a strong finish with Xenoblade Chronicles 2. Building on the technology that powered Xenoblade X on the Wii U, this new game expands upon its engine in numerous ways enabling cool new visual effects in the process, but this ambition is met with unexpected drawbacks that detract from its overall presentation, including the one of the lowest recorded rendering resolutions we've seen on record. Clearly, the developers have walked the tightrope here in terms of balancing new features with the hardware limits of the Nintendo hybrid and we're not entirely sure that it's fully paid off.
Compare and contrast the lead-up to the launch of Xenoblade Chronicles 2 with developer Monolith Soft's last two Nintendo outings (or indeed its last effort, given how it lent a hand with Breath of the Wild) and you can't help but feel it's all been a little muted. Perhaps it's just circumstance; this is coming at the tail-end of a spectacularly busy year for the Switch, hot on the heels of a mainline Mario. But when the first Xenoblade Chronicles launched on the Wii it was the culmination of a long journey for creator Tetsuya Takahashi, and perhaps the first game capable of matching his grand ambition, and when spiritual successor Xenoblade Chronicles X arrived some five years later there wasn't much else for Wii U owners to cheer for.
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Back at Gamescom, I got the chance to play around an hour of Xenoblade Chronicles 2, Nintendo's big role-playing game exclusive pencilled in for launch on Switch this Christmas. I'm told I was the first person at the show - and apparently the first outside of Nintendo - to go hands-on. Surprisingly little has been seen so far, bearing in mind the game's impending launch, so I'm a little lost when I find myself dropped a dozen or so hours into the game's campaign. I'll be learning its many battle systems on the fly - and I do definitely spend my entire time with the game learning, as layer upon layer of gameplay unfurls itself and things slowly, mostly start to make sense.